Many media commentators predict advertisers will push the potential of digital communications. The most effective way of doing this so far has been either to tap into or to create online communities based around the interests of internet users. If products can appeal to people through their interests, people are likely to connect its relevance to them.

Therefore effective online advertising has so far been based around making spaces on the world wide web that people want to see. Websites, search engines, uploads, podcasts and virals are (in 2007) the most prominent formats attracting the attention of digital advertising departments.

The objective is to pull interested parties into websites and get them involved with the themes, culture and ultimately the brand.

Communication analysts believe online communities are having an incalculable impact on strategies for reaching newly empowered consumers. In the past, broadcasters could rely on guaranteed traffic – viewers and passers-by – to push information at: fixed, homogeneous audiences are no longer reachable through mainstream media on the scale that they once were. Now consumers are selectors. Through the plethora of media channels they are able to locate and indulge their own interests.

In one sense this has empowered customers. In practice it has forced successful brands to identify their core values and those of their audience to establish a range of activities around shared beliefs, reference points and social outlooks.

Broadcasting remodeled as narrow reeling

We are dedicated to the production of new, innovative and exciting TV formats that can be replicated all over the world. It was an obvious next step for us to promote the growing market of MP3 and ringtone downloads.

In order to maintain our position at the forefront of the interactive broadcasting space, we will be extending our relationship with Opera Telecom to incorporate mobile and telephony interactivity into future programme formats. (Morgan Holt, former Interactive Director of television production house Endemol and Executive Producer of the Orange Playlist.

The medium with the biggest potential audience reach, TV broadcasting, has found that technology enabled it to develop offshoot channels to develop niche interest packages and, importantly, advertising opportunities. Offshoot programmes have the advantage of using material that would otherwise be edited out, so there is less wastage of recorded material. This is being used to offset huge declines in television audiences.

In the days of homogeneous mass television viewing, broadcasters could simply rely on millions of consumers sitting down to watch TV shows. Audiences were relatively captive. Entertainment has evolved dramatically in the past decades and the TV is just one in a long line of options available to consumers.

As the introduction noted, technology has brought on a new range of digital channels via cable and satellite, the internet, multimedia mobile devices as well as PVR (personal video recorders) services such as TiVo (United States, Europe) and SkyPlus (UK, Europe) where consumers can get ‘video on demand’ (VOD). The latter is having a significant impact on the TV business model as it enables viewers to skip past ads and record programmes for viewing at a later date. The waiting time that was occupied by adverts is now being fast-forwarded.

About 7 million people watch television programmes on their PCs and laptops via broadband or on their mobile phone, up 37% since March 2006. (ICM research/UK 2006)

In 2005 a huge buzz in broadcast circles surrounded the arrival of web video technology. This has coincided with the mass roll-out of broadband in households globally. This has enabled brands from all areas of the entertainment spectrum to provide consumers with web video, not least broadcasters.

As mainstream peak time viewing has moved towards reality and consumer-created content, in much the same way broadcasters have also moved quickly to exploit digital TV.

They are now moving to reach a mass of niche audiences online through the development of online channels, more often than not on a small budget. Content includes anything from complete shows to clips and extra footage that didn’t make a show’s original cut and a menu of programs for on-demand selection. This has effectively rejuvenated ‘free to air’ terrestrial television.

Many had thought that commercial television was in decline because the money underpinning its tremendous costs might desert it for new media before the mass audience does. All around the world – even in territories where digital growth has been contained by powerful media owners – advertisers have realized that the 30-second television commercial is delivering only a fraction of what it did in 2000.

By reshaping formats, television programs have managed to become multi-platform offerings: the main broadcast is the pull for audiences, and flow is managed to smaller niche viewing markets. Internationally franchised reality shows such as Survivor, Big Brother (both 2000) and Pop Idol (2001) created content that could be sliced in a number of ways to provide spin-off programmes or extensions using original viewing content for broadcast, digital and many other channels.

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